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€1.5m virus fund to help bar staff and elderly set up by Guinness across Ireland

Guinness has announced the establishment of a €1.5m fund providing support to communities affected by Covid-19 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The fund will see €1.2m go to support bar staff, alongside a further €300,000 to elderly and vulnerable people through a partnership with ALONE and its Befriending service.

Oliver Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, said: "We have been supporting the licensed trade in the last week through what is an unprecedented period as we all work together to keep people safe through the ongoing closure of licensed premises across the country.

"We are announcing additional support of €1.5m, including €1.2m to bar staff, and we will be working with our partners in the trade, The Licensed Vintners Association, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland and Hospitality Ulster, on how we can support bar staff to maximum effect using this funding in what is a very fast-moving situation."

Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill welcomed the boost.

He said: "With the ongoing closure of pubs around the country in a bid to protect their local communities, it reminds us of the importance of looking out for each other through these most challenging times."

Donall O'Keeffe, CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association, added: "These are unprecedented times and it's important that we pull together and show solidarity among the bar community."

In addition to its additional funding of €300,000 for ALONE, Guinness is asking its staff members to pledge their time to support the charity's Befriending service.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said the cash injection would a make a big difference to vulnerable people.

"Guinness has been supporting us for over three years in a bid to address social isolation, but it's now that we need this most," he added.

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